Upon completion of this unit, students should be able to:
3. Appraise how leadership behaviors and situational factors can affect leadership success.
3.1 Evaluate motivational techniques and empowerment tools.
3.2 Discuss situational factors that affect leadership, such as size, structure, environment, and
geographic location.
Learning Outcomes
Learning Activity
Unit Lesson
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Unit III Essay
3.2 Unit Lesson
Unit III Essay
Reading Assignment
In addition to a physical copy of the textbook, each unit contains the eTextbook version of the assigned
reading chapters. If preferred, click on Unit III in the course navigation menu to access the online version of
the assigned chapters.
Chapter 8: Motivation and Empowerment, pp. 227–250
Chapter 9: Leadership Communication, pp. 261–283
Unit Lesson
As you learned in previous units, leadership is based on the personal experiences of a leader and his or
her ability to focus on and develop the skills, behaviors, and relationships of followers. Leaders need to
be aware of the differences in their human capital and the fact that their followers vary in expectations,
values, beliefs, and learning styles. Once leaders have made the attempt to establish and maintain a
relationship with their followers, they must also cultivate the motivation and empowerment of those they
lead. As you have learned, what motivates one person may not motivate another. Skillful leaders will
hone in on the strengths and weaknesses of their followers and adjust their leadership techniques
This unit’s lesson focuses on the leader as a relationship builder and the factors that affect the leader’s ability
to cultivate those relationships. One true essence of a leader is to motivate others, bring out the best in them,
encourage them, and nurture them. Motivation, like leadership, is an ongoing practice, and the challenge is
not only how to motivate followers but also to determine the means of motivation. For example, every day
John gets up, goes to work, goes to the gym, then goes home to cook and eat dinner. Each task John
completes leads to a specific type of an outcome. For example, John goes to work in order to receive a
paycheck. John goes to the gym in order to stay healthy. John cooks and eats dinner in order to nourish his
body. This may sound simple, but even in our daily routine, we are either intrinsically or extrinsically rewarded
by our actions.
We know that leaders focus on the organizational tasks and goals set for them. However, great leaders show
flexibility in how they might address both organizational goals and their own personal goals, which might be
Motivation and Empowerment
MSL 6000, Psychological Foundations of Leadership 2
very different. Leaders typically cannot just say, “Let’s do this!” and motivate and empower their workers.
Leaders need to understand that one single type of motivation or empowerment will not apply to all of their
employees. Why? Because just like leadership, individuals will have different methods and styles of doing
things. It is likely that if leaders focus on a single way to either motivate or empower workers then they will not
be truly successful. Think of what specifically motivates and empowers you. Is it exactly the same as what
motivates your coworkers?
Many leaders still use fear or penalty to motivate. However, this is not a true motivator. You may have seen
leaders use organizational policy and rules to attempt to motivate their workers. While this might be
somewhat effective, that leader really is not using motivation or empowerment to its full potential. We can
reflect back to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his ability to be a motivational leader. Instead of focusing on
fear, Dr. King focused on the right of freedom, even if that right of freedom came with a strong price. Dr.
King’s followers were motivated and empowered to the point of marching, facing jail time, and/or abuse, but
they still followed and supported their leader. Leaders need to understand the true motivation and
empowerment of their followers.
Similar to our personal routine, our professional activities are also based on the outcome of a reward. Daft
(2018) defines intrinsic rewards as an “internal satisfaction and enjoyment a person receives in the process of
performing a particular action” (p. 229). Intrinsic rewards are typically internal, and the individual receives
satisfaction and fulfillment from an accomplishment. The task is a behavior that satisfies the higher need of an
individual. On the opposite side of the spectrum are extrinsic rewards. Extrinsic rewards satisfy the lower
needs such as basic safety, security, and comfort, and they “are given by another person, typically a
supervisor, and include promotions and pay increases” (Daft, 2018, p. 229). Leaders approach each reward
as a motivational tool to meet the needs of the organization with a primary focus of meeting the higher needs
of employees.
There are numerous theories relevant to motivation with each having a focus on needs—in particular, needs
that motivate individuals. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory “proposes that humans are motivated by
multiple needs and those needs exist in a hierarchical order” (Daft, 2018, p. 233).
Maslow’s order, commonly referred to as a five-stage model, begins with basic, physiological needs (food,
water, sleep), followed by safety needs (security and stability), then love and belongingness from work, family,
and friends. Next, are the esteem needs (achievement, status, and self-respect), and last are selfactualization needs (self-fulfillment). Daft (2018) shares that, within an organization, these needs are reflected
as follows:
(Pytyczech, n.d.)
MSL 6000, Psychological Foundations of Leadership 3
 Physiological needs: Heat, air, and base salary
 Safety needs: Safe work, fringe benefits, and job security
 Belongingness needs: Work groups, clients, coworkers, and supervisors
 Esteem needs: Recognition, approval, high status, and increased responsibilities
 Self-actualization needs: Opportunities for advancement, autonomy, growth, and creativity (p. 233)
Maslow’s theory is predicated on the idea that one must satisfy the lower-level needs before progressing to a
higher level. Successful leaders realize and support the capability of those that seek to attain the highest
level, yet they realize that obstacles and challenges may prevent them from progressing from one lower need
to a higher need.
Complementing Maslow’s theory is Frederick Herzberg’s two-factor theory. Daft (2018) states that there are
some job factors that result in satisfaction while there are other job factors that prevent dissatisfaction (p.
234). Daft classifies the two factors as hygiene and motivators. Hygiene factors include pay, policies, benefits,
working conditions, status, interpersonal relations, and job security. Each factor symbolizes physiological
needs. Inherent to intrinsic rewards are the motivational factors, which include recognition, achievement,
growth opportunities, responsibility, meaningful work, and performance. Herzberg’s theory implies that
leaders need to utilize employees’ skills and competence, and work needs to be stimulating and rewarding,
improving overall work quality.
Each theory is important to employee motivation, but what about empowerment? Daft (2018) states that
“empowerment refers to power sharing, the delegation of power or authority to subordinates in the
organization” (p. 243). Empowerment is a motivation enhancer that satisfies the higher needs of employees.
The following factors are necessary for employees to be truly empowered and perform their jobs effectively:
 knowledge of the company’s performance,
 training and development of skills,
 power to make substantive decisions,
 an understanding of the impact and meaning of their jobs, and
 rewards based on company performance (Daft, 2018).
Motivating employees is a critical component of leadership, but it is equally important that the messages
transmitted by leaders (i.e., communication) are deciphered by their followers. Communication is a process
where a sender transmits information and a receiver receives and interprets the message sent. How leaders
communicate with others can influence as well as motivate individuals to perform, attain, and accomplish their
goals and objectives. Daft speaks of leaders being communication champions whose primary role is to build
trust and commitment among individuals in meeting an organization’s vision and strategy. Keep in mind a
leader’s communication should be purpose driven, directing “everyone’s attention toward the vision, values,
and desired outcomes of the group” (Daft, 2018, p. 265). A communication champion leader is open-minded,
has a willingness to actively listen, uses candor, is a good story teller, asks inquisitive questions, and is a
strategic communicator.
Listening is the key to effective communication. Leaders use listening as a relationship builder and
understand that listening is a communication process that leads to the receiver of the message accurately
Listen actively Keep an open
Capitalize on the
fact that thought
is faster than
Judge content,
not delivery Hold one’s fire Listen for ideas Work at listening Show respect
Ten keys to effective listening
(Daft, 2018, p. 269)
MSL 6000, Psychological Foundations of Leadership 4
receiving and interpreting the message. When we listen, we foster the skill in others by acting as a model for
positive and effective communication.
We can apply one or more of the steps above to be a better listener. Followers can also continuously improve
and become the best listeners possible. Successful leaders and their followers strive to pay close attention to
the message being stated, keep eye contact on the speaker at all times, ask questions, paraphrase the
message, and remain positive throughout the communication process to enhance the relationship among one
another and become a more effective listener and communicator.
The last note to focus on is that leadership is a process, not a job title. As such, situational factors affect the
outcome of the leadership process. Situational factors that can influence a leader’s ability to lead include the
structure of the organization (sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation), the size of the company (small,
medium, large), the work environment (culture, social/psychological climate, employment patterns) and even
the geographic location of the organization. According to Daft (2018), leaders will often need to “adjust their
leadership style depending on a variety of factors in the situations they face” (p. 66). For example, a leader in
a small organization may be able to successfully lead his or her employees in a decentralized informal
manner, whereas a leader in a large organization will likely find that he or she needs a more complex,
formalized approach to be successful. The specific culture of an organization will also dictate the type of
approach a leader should take to lead the team. The level of formality at an organization can impact the
communication, decision-making, and the performance of the leader. Leaders need to understand the various
situational factors that can influence their ability to lead and adjust their approach accordingly.
As we conclude this unit, think about your encounters with leaders—both good and bad. Consider those
leaders you would classify as good leaders; what are some of those skills they conveyed? How were they
able to motivate and inspire others? Were they honest? Compassionate? Good communicators? Consider
leaders you would label as bad leaders; did they lack empathy? Did they seem to devalue their employees?
Were they poor listeners? As an employee, think about what factors motivate you to excel at your job and
how these motivators change as your situation changes. Consider how you will incorporate the motivational
techniques and empowerment tools you learned in this unit to enhance your leadership skills. Your process
will continue to evolve, and those leaders who are able to adapt their skills to these changes will stand out as
leaders in the future.
Daft, R. L. (with Lane, P. G.). (2018). The leadership experience (7th ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.
Pytyczech. (n.d.). Maslow’s pyramid of needs. Diagram, person (ID 65741575) [Image]. Retrieved from
Learning Activities (Nongraded)
Nongraded Learning Activities are provided to aid students in their course of study. You are not required to
submit these to your instructor but are encouraged to keep a copy for your personal files. If you have
questions, contact your instructor for further guidance and information.
Apply the Concepts: Take the Self-Assessment!
There is no question that leaders should be relationship builders, but there are many factors that affect a
leader’s ability to create these relationships. Have the leaders in your life met your needs? What impact do
others have on your approach to motivating others? Chapters 8 and 9 focus on these very topics. To take the
self-assessments associated with these chapters, click on Unit III in the course navigation menu, and then
click on Nongraded Learning Activities.